Into The Wild

Talia Gutierrez, Staff Reporter/Photographer

Nature was a source of inspiration for centuries, if not millennia, for humans and their creations. This was true then, and it remains true now. But, it’s still hard to believe that a bit of what is basically tree fungus could lead to an entire book being published. 

As of 2020, Adjunct Professor, Hannah Chancellor, published her first book, A Woman In The Wilderness. 

“It was also a lot of personal things in my life this year,” explained Chancellor, “I lost one parent, I might be losing another one soon. So, just a lot of focusing things that gave me clarity. And having a semester that was a little less busy and my kids are a little bit older, it was easier to focus on a bigger project.” 

Chancellor said that she must have shifted through over a decade’s worth of poems she had written to make into a book. She even admitted that, having a love of writing and poetry for as long as she can remember, that this has probably been a long time coming. 

“I think I have been wanting to write a book for a long time,” mused Chancellor, “I was just kind of thinking ‘I wonder how many poems I have?’” 

So, why now?  

That would be thanks to the 2019 Great Lakes Writers Festival or, more specifically, to environmental poet, Kathleen Heideman. 

“…she did some individual workshops…she lives by Lake Superior, so she brought some pieces of lichen from the woods to explore, and we had this sort of naturalist lesson about lichens,” recalled Chancellor, “So, I wrote a poem that day about lichens and it kind of just spiraled, you know? Like undoing a ball of yarn from there.” 

As a naturalist possessing a Masters in Environmental Science while also working as a field biologist, Chancellor stated, “Nearly all of the poems were inspired in the wilderness, natural environment settings.” 

“I think we spend a lot of our lives disconnected from the natural world,” stated Chancellor, “I think people protect what they love. So, if you find more ways to enjoy nature you’re gonna be more interested in protecting it.” 

As this was the first time she has put together a book for publishing, Chancellor explained that she learned a lot about the editing process of poetry. 

“One thing led to another and I realized I had a cover I liked,” said Chancellor, I’m really pleased with how it turned out. 

As Chancellor’s book hits the shelves, organizations continue to gain more awareness of climate change and how much needs to be done to preserve what is left. And she hopes readers see her book for what it really is, “…an invitation to explore and protect wild places more, and wild creatures. That is the one thing we can all do. 

If you want to buy the book for yourself, go to Amazon and search for “A Woman in the Wilderness: A Foray in Poetry” by Hannah Harder.